“The Birth of Climate Change” for WNYC/United States of Anxiety

This story was for the WNYC podcast, the United States of Anxiety, hosted by Kai Wright.

It starts with the 1925 Scopes Trial — also known as the “trial of the century” — and looks at one of the most controversial topics in our time: the debate over evolution versus a fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible.

It started with a substitute teacher in Tennessee who taught evolution in the classroom. What followed was a fiery debate that rocketed around the world.

The Scopes Trial reminds us that science has often upset the establishment.

Then we turn to another controversy: doubt around the whole idea of climate change. This is the story I reported. It starts on a day in 1988 when NASA scientist James Hansen warned a congressional committee that climate change was real. Back then, Republican President George H.W. Bush touted himself as being pro-environment.

“I’m an environmentalist… And I always will be,” he said. “And that is not inconsistent with being a businessman. Nor is it with being a conservative.”

Today, President Donald Trump considers climate change a “hoax” and is considering withdrawing from the Paris climate accord. It’s a radical change in 25 years. We’ll tell you how we got there.